About, Reviews

I have a new little sister and it’s not what you think…

I recently got a little sister! No, my parents didn’t gift me with a new bundle of joy, but this is pretty close. I recently got matched with seven-year-old Celeste in the Big Brother Big Sister program, and let me tell you: we are a perfect match! It really is almost dreamy! I get to do all the fun things I kind of always wanted to do when I was a kid but rarely got the chance to.

Having worked in a school for several years, I thought I’d have so many ideas for outings with my little buddy (I actually like using ‘buddy’ vs. ‘sister’), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. And, as I would come to find out for myself, each kid is actually very different. The things that I thought most seven-year-olds would like, were not necessarily accurate. Celeste is one of four kids, and before our first outing, I kept trying to come up with elaborate outings, but I soon found out that spending one-on-one time with me was enough for her. *Cue the collective ‘awwww‘*

Celeste in Washington Square Park
“Do you see the rainbow I’m standing in?”

On our first outing, I took her on what I like to call “The Grand Tour of the Village (in NYC).” It basically consisted of hopping on the PATH train, getting off at 9th St., walking to my job, a picnic at Washington Square Park, and possibly more than one of my favorite frozen dessert spots. That day, we sat in the grass in Washington Square Park, strategically positioned next to a Jazz band of NYU students; then, we made our way to the fountain and splashed around before we headed to the kids’ playground where we tried to see who could swing the highest (spoiler alert: I lost). We ended the day with some vegan ice cream from Van Leeuwen and what a great day it was.

Two weeks after our outing, I’m combing my brain (and the internet) for more outing ideas in NY and NJ. While we were provided with a list of ideas from BBBS, I wanted more Jersey City and  NYC-centric outings and activities, mostly because I love these places; I’m still exploring them myself, and I love the accessibility of NY+NJ! One of my greatest resources for exploring the city as an adult has been Time Out NY, and not surprisingly, they have a kid version! I also get a lot of inspiration from social media influencers that I follow. Interestingly enough, many of them are moms, and my favorite one to follow and draw ideas from is @mommyshorts; mom bloggers seem to know it all… and they have huge followings! For food outing ideas, I get lots of inspo from @foodbabyny and their mom(!) @alexlchau. I find @yelpnewjersey and @yelpnyc are also full of food outing ideas!

Here is a short “resource list” I created. Some places I’ve been to, some are places I want to go to, and others are just ideas. Do you have any Big and Little outing ideas? Let me know so I can add it to my list of ideas!


Straws (and Single-use Plastic) Suck!

The past few days has been nothing short of brutal; NY/NJ has been heatwave central. I read that some parts of the world reached 107 degrees! And to think that there are still many people who don’t believe in global warming!

So, I’ve jumped onto the no-single-use-plastic bandwagon. I’ve always been very conscious of how we (at home) recycle. However, after a huge composting initiative here at work, my consciousness of my own use of single-use plastics went into overdrive and has since become an obsession. Working in a school, I see how much waste we create. I see how much gets tossed. Last year, a group of parents started a drive for Material for the Arts and the turnout/collection was ridiculous; But our spending and wasting is another story.

Anyway, as I was browsing Facebook, a friend shared a link to Crayola Color Cycle. Basically, Crayola will take and recycle your plastic markers (any brand, style, etc.) for you – they even pay for shipping! I mean, how brainless is that? I took the project on once I realized that it the one small thing I can do for our planet. I put out a small 12 inch by 14 inch rectangular box outside of my office one day in mid-May and the progress was slow, but I remained hopeful.

Kids who get picked up late usually end up at my office. Pure curiosity (and their youth and the inability to read) has prompted many of them to ask me what the signs on my box read. Upon telling them what my collection box was for, many of them would test out the markers already placed in the box and say, “hey! These still work! Why are they being tossed?” From there, they want to talk about waste and then the reusability of these markers. Unsurprisingly, these were also the same kids walking to my office to drop off one or two dried out markers to be recycled. It was really heartwarming. One girl dropped off a handful of dried out markers that she found in the school’s art room; Then her friends started coming by with dried out markers! I also found out that some colleagues at our high school (same school, different building) were collecting plastic markers for Color Cycle, too! My colleague suggested sending my collection over to her and she would mail them in.

The school year came to an end and my box was overflowing with markers to be recycled. Little did I know that I many of my colleagues were just as passionate about recycling as I was. I came back from a two night overnight professional development to find that someone has left a 13-gallon garbage bag of plastic markers in my office. I combined what I had and that was that. That was my small act of citizenship.

This is what I started with..
This is what I had before someone combined their markers and these into a 13-gallon garbage bag!











I have a colleague who is moving from NYC to teach at an underfunded school near Tijuana and I let her grab whatever markers were still in good condition; she took quite a lot, and I’m glad!

On top of this, I completed a challenge that restricted me from using single-use plastics, especially straws. It was much easier than I thought. I purchased a pack of stainless steel straws and paired them with my water bottle and iced coffee container. I have to admit, it hasn’t been easy – I hate washing my drinking vessels (mainly because I’m lazy), but it is a small price to pay to do your part. After completing my challenge, I decided to stick with not (or trying not to) using single-use plastics, which include straws, plastic to-go cups, plastic utensils, etc. It has been quite gratifying. And, in the bigger scheme of things, I know that I’m not the only one; there are other people out these who are just as conscious. The impact that we’re making as a whole is going to make a difference. Even my city has adopted a plastic bag ban!

On a last note, my coworker shared this NY Times article with me, which makes me feel like we’re that much closer to Gilead. Okay, I know, dramatic, but seriously, it’s possible, and what’ll happen when they summon unwomen to clean the colonies? Not I!

How do you do your part in protecting the environment? What things do you do in your everyday life to be more considerate to the Earth?


Summer’s here!

Summer’s here and somehow, I was able to go on a mini trip with my sister. Hardly a trip going from one city to another (NY/NJ to Boston), though much appreciated time away nonetheless. I have to admit, I had some amazing eats there. More on that later.

So far this summer, we’ve avoided hiking because it has been hot AF. Funny thing is, we just wrapped up a few days’ of a heat wave. I couldn’t help but share with my best friend this meme that said, “I’ve got to get my life together. This heat has proven that I can’t survive in hell!” And to think that over the past week, it hit 107 degrees in other parts of the world! Unbelievable to think that many people still don’t believe in global warming.


I see you, I get it: Support and Advice to Teens and Young Adults

Trigger warning: this post has a dark theme of depression, suicide.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I an expert in suicide and depression. Rather, I am offering support, resources, and a listening ear.

Today is a sad day. As some of you know, I work in a school with kids from Pre-K through 12th grade. This morning, I found out that one of our students committed suicide and though I didn’t know her well, I still feel immense sadness. Sadness for her, her family, her friends – and for my colleagues whose kids were in the same grade as her. How do you talk to your teenager about this? I can’t imagine having to tell my kid that her friend killed herself, something that some of my colleagues had to do this morning.

I get it. As a kid, I had deep deep feelings of angst, even way beyond what I think was normal. There were moments that I felt like there was no hope and the dread was endless. My teenage years felt like an eternity. The days felt unbearable. There wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. There wasn’t a means of escape, I felt trapped. All the time. Many times, these feelings were unexplainable. There were no words to accurately explain the deep sadness and anxiety. Sometimes, I could swear that I could feel physical pain from it.

The adults in my life didn’t seem approachable or kind. Mostly, they were figures of authority, there to do their job. I often clashed with my parents – hardcore. My parents weren’t the kind to talk to me and nurture my social, emotional and mental health. My teachers were just my teachers. I didn’t feel like I could confide in them, nor did I feel like they were invested in me.

So to the kids that feel this kind of dread – that there isn’t a way out, that the sadness and darkness are neverending, the feelings of hopelessness that consume you, or that nobody understands and that there is just noone:

THERE IS. There is someone who will listen and who will understand. There is a light at the end of this dark tiny suffocating tunnel. And to the teenagers who are feeling this way: I have been there. Though the adults in your life may not admit this, they too, have been there. I’m one of those adults. It gets better, I promise.  That dark cloud that follows you won’t be there forever. Take a moment, breathe.

Find someone and talk to them. If you can’t, here are some free resources:

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
This is an anonymous and confidential crisis helpline. The people on the line will just listen. And if talking is not your thing, here is a link to their chat. Yes! You can chat with them! This resource is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For NYC Residents
NYC Well, 24/7 free and confidential service that connects you with the appropriate counselors. They have phone, chat and texting features. Yes! You can text them!

Even in the wee hours of this night, when you feel that there is nobody to talk to, there is someone waiting to talk to you. So to that, I say, I’m here. I’ve been there. I see you, I hear you.

If you need a listening ear or just need to vent, you can email me, I promise I will respond sooner than later. I’m no professional, but I will listen. If you want to know more about me or feel like seeing way too many pictures of my dogs and ice cream, follow me on instagram.

Looking for some solitary ways to help center your racing mind? Read more about Mindfulness below.

What is Mindfulness?

Well, to me, it means that I’m centered. I’m doing something that makes me aware of my present self. If you’re looking for something more legit, here’s what Mindfulness.org says:

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

There has been a push at my job for mindfulness and using a 2-3 minute mindfulness activity before starting a class or meeting in order for kids (and adults) to center themselves from having just transitioned from one class to another.

Truth be told, I hate participating in these activities in a group setting. I feel way too self-conscious and anxious, the opposite of the goal. I often opt out of them or show up later to a meeting just so I don’t have to participate. However, I do love doing these things at home or alone in my office. Below are two mindful activities that I like to do alone.

Youtube Videos
Here’s a quick and helpful breathing exercise to ground yourself. Skip to 1:30 to get right to the breathing exercise. Here’s another breathing exercise strategy called triangle breathing. You get the idea, right? There are plenty of videos on YouTube to help you center yourself. See: breathing exercises, yoga, mindfulness.

Coloring is such a mindful activity. It is also something that I like to do when I feel like I need to unplug and gather my thoughts. There are so many free coloring pages online, like these. Johanna Basford is one of my favorite coloring book illustrators. I have the Secret Garden coloring book and it is my go-to!

I also love these drawing techniques. The repetitiveness is calming. Speaking of repetitive and calming, I also very much like to do linocut printing, which is a printing method using a sheet of linoleum, in which a subtractive cutting method is used to take away the parts of linoleum where you want to leave the white of the page, and keep the parts you want to be inked! Cool, huh?

Take a Walk
I’m not into exercise at all, but sometimes, all I need is some sunshine. Or fresh air. Or fresh damp air.  Sometimes, I like the way the rain hits me. On these walks, I almost always go with my dog. Sometimes with headphones and great playlist, sometimes just in quiet. Sometimes, I have a place in mind that I’d like to walk to and sometimes, I just walk where my dog takes me. Once, he led me to the lake at a teeny tiny park. It was almost like he knew that that’s what I needed.

Lists, Pet News, Reviews

Hiking with dogs… kind of!

I suppose my title should actually read, “Hiking with dogs… in New Jersey,” right?

I can’t say I’m an avid hiker, though I other dog owners/parents might agree that taking their dog for long walks is somewhat of an all-around favorite. Hiking is not my favorite, but I love seeing my dogs in nature. Below are a few trails, parks, and watering holes we’ve taken our dogs to. The parks range from local, a short drive, to a little bit of a longer drive. Of course, I have to first list the places we go to in our home base, Jersey City.

Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park is the park of my hometown, Jersey City and boy, do I love that park. I’ve seen it transform over the years, from being underdeveloped to the verge of overdevelopment. I have fond memories of this place and I’m glad that I can now share that with my dogs and hope to share it with my future children. When we come here to “hike”–more like walk–with Benny, we park at the first lot upon entering the park. There is a children’s playground on the other side of the parking lot. We follow the concrete paved trail that leads us into the main park, onto the waterfront and then back to the lot again. Along this trail is also a health course – a handful of park equipment meant for exercise – pull up bars, incline bench for sit-ups, etc. It is actually a welcome feature to the park, which was pretty desolate in the 90’s until it was developed in the past 10 years. The trail is paved with concrete and very easy to walk, especially in the cooler seasons. It is about 1.3 miles. In the summertime, however, the heat and sun can be extreme. Since the redevelopment of the park wasn’t that long ago, the trees along the trail are still very young, which means that there isn’t much shade at all.

Our favorite and the most beautiful features of this park are because of its location. Along the “trail” that we follow into the main part of the park, is the Interpretive Center, which remains closed after having sustained damage from a really bad hurricane a few years ago.* We like stopping at the Interpretive Center grounds on our way to the main park because the flora and foliage are just gorgeous, I don’t think words can do the scenery justice. There is a bench toward the back of the building faces the marshes and when we’re there, we often spot turtles and different kinds of large majestic birds. The waterfront walkway is along the Hudson River, therefore giving you a panorama view of New York City’s (mostly lower) West Side.


*While the Interpretive Center remains closed, they do offer educational environmental programs.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park, though not very exciting, is worth a mention because, well, its the closest park to us. Lincoln Park is within walking distance from our home. I usually treat the dogs for a walk here when I’m home on winter, summer, or spring break (I work in a school). I enter through a little entrance on Communipaw and Mallory and make my way to the loop around the whole park, which is about mile, I think. Maybe even less. My favorite part about this park is actually its west side, called Lincoln Park West, which wasn’t developed until a few years ago.

Next to the football fields, you can drive over a narrow bridge and into the west side of the park. Alternatively, there’s a footbridge you can walk, too. The bridge goes over 440 traffic and is quite exhilarating. Once you’re at LP West, there are plenty of parking spaces as there are two baseball fields. Woohoo, sports! Amirite? Further past the fields is a huge – and I mean huge – dog park. The dog park has a nice faucet with a hose that is often used to fill up kiddie pools for the dogs to wade in during the summertime. We used to frequent the dog park, but now prefer to just take our dogs for actual walks. Across the lot from the dog park is a little pebble trail that seems to be near or part of the newly built golf course. It is beautiful; there are wildflowers, marshland and a clear view of the Pulaski. Ha! This particular trail is the most secluded, which is best for us and our dogs. We like this trail, though it is important to note that it is not very shady (see: outer part of the golf course), so the sun can get intense, especially in the summertime.


Berry Lane Park

Berry Lane Park was completed and opened only a year or two ago and it is teeny. I think the goal for this was less walking space, but more for utility. When I was younger, I remember seeing the site of Berry Lane Park as I rode the light rail and imagining what could possibly be in those XXL industrial barrels and industrial silos. What could they possibly turn this land into? Fast forward eight years later and it is a neat park with brightly colored benches, playground and workout equipment and most importantly, plenty of garbage+recycling cans. There are also athletic fields, basketball and tennis courts – the works! Like I said, this park seems to be more for utility than anything.

The dog park here is teeny and I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing Benny here when there are other dogs – that’s how small it is. We often forgo the dog park when there are other dogs in there. Otherwise, it is a great space for practicing commands with our dogs (not that they listen). One of our favorite things at this dog park is that there is a human + doggie drinking fountain!

If we had kids, we would definitely take them to this park. There are so many cool things on the playground and apparently, there is a splash pad in the summertime. The exercise equipment is very cool, plenty, and usable. Berry Lane Park is so beautiful and well-kept that you almost forget that you’re in the hood.

Lastly, Berry Lane Park is easily accessible by light rail, bus, and car. There is ample free parking, which is always a plus.


Steven R. Gregg Park (Bayonne Park to JC residents)

Bayonne Park is bigger than Berry Lane, and probably about the same size (if not bigger) than Lincoln Park. I could be completely wrong if we’re actually counting square footage. From the outside, it looks like a regular park, but alas, it is not! Some fun features for people with human children: lots of playground equipment, a separate playground with water structures, bike paths, etc. This park is beautiful and also a little older with large sturdy trees, which means it is nice and shady! What a reprieve this can be from the hot summer sun, especially with the breeze of the bay.

There is a dog park here, but we don’t go in. Again, we prefer walking around. One of my favorite part about this park is the little boardwalk walkway toward the east side of the park. It leads you into a little wildlife oasis! The boardwalk isn’t that long, but there isn’t much shade so it can feel very hot and long! Along the boardwalk are small watch boxes with eye/peepholes where you can stand by and discreetly watch wildlife. Though there are signs that caution against fishing and eating what you catch, there are often people fishing along the water here.



Ramapo Valley Reservation

Now on to the good stuff! Ramapo Valley Reservation is one of our favorite watering holes. It is a ~ 48-minute drive from where we live in Jersey City. We barely hit Saturday morning traffic on our way here. The drive was smooth and beautiful. We also found parking very easily – and free!

We have never really taken an actual hike here. Rather, we take a short trail (okay, maybe a short hike on the light blue/yellow trail) up to MacMillan reservoir which was beautiful and not strenuous at all. Not even a mile. The hike was shady and had a slight breeze with plenty of other people on the trail, many with dogs, too. What liked about this train was that it was wide! Our dog tends to pull on his leash when he sees other dogs – out of excitement, of course – and there’s plenty of space to manage (or avoid) this kind of behavior. There are two ponds that lead up to MacMillan reservoir. They’re kind of yucky; don’t let your dogs swim in there!

The reservoir is huge. The space around it is huge. Naturally, we congregated near the other dog owners and watched as their dogs paddled in the water. Some dogs swam far and other stayed near the shoreline. Ours, he tested the waters – literally! We mostly kept him on his leash because we were afraid he’d swim out too far, realize he was so far, and then freak. And then, one of us (my partner, of course!) would have to save him. For this reason, I later purchased a 20-foot leash, though we haven’t used it yet. There was a human or two that was also swimming in this reservoir with their dogs. Awww.

The hike back to the car was just long and warm enough to get dry Benny off completely.


Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake, Cheesequake, Cheesequake. How I hate to love you. We have visited Cheesequake State Park a few times over the years. I love that it has many uses – it has a small lake for families, birdwatching, camping, etc.

We came here for a hike on a July Monday and paid $5 at the entrance. We decided to skip the lake since the last time I jumped in this lake (a few years ago), I ended up with some sort of skin discoloration, but that’s a story for another time. It should be noted that the swimming area for the lake is very small and this lake definitely smells like a lake!

Now on to the hike, but before I go into detail, it is very important to know that you will need bug spray. As a matter of fact, no matter if it is hot or cold, I will always bring bug spray in the future. Here’s why. We hike up to the nature center where there are bathrooms which are surprisingly very very clean, so go before you set foot on any trail! After we hit up the nature center, we walk toward the trails and head off into the blue trail, which was a non-strenuous 2 miles (for us). The trail itself was easy to navigate.  The markers were clear and easy to follow. We came across a set of stairs that were actually very high (id distance from each other), so being 4’9″, I had to basically climb on to each step; The other sets of stairs were normal, though.

Now on to the mosquitoes. I should have known something was up when I saw a sign that said, “the bugs are biting” at the entrance toll booth. I write this with the most big-sisterly care I can: BRING and WEAR BUG SPRAY. At 1.2 miles into the hike, we come across this clearing of pine trees where you’re basically walking into a fog of mosquitoes. There wasn’t really any turning back. So, for .5 mile, we fast-walked and swatted our way through and by a pond, where the mosquitoes were the most aggressive and populous. What was I thinking not bringing bug spray when I saw and knew that there were marshes on the map!? Two days later, I was SO itchy and filled with regret!

Lastly, this is a place where you have to take out your own trash. We took our dog with us who also liked the hike. That said, with no trash cans, you will have to carry poop bags with you throughout the hike if your dog does the doo.

If the mosquitoes don’t bother you and/or you are confident in the powers of bug spray, come here. I definitely will be back when the weather is cooler… that’s when mosquitoes are less prevalent, right? Overall, this would have been a five-star hike had I been prepared.

South Mountain Reservation

South Mountain Reservation is a gem! Since we weren’t familiar with the area, we stayed on the Zoo Loop, which only circled the reservoir (called Orange Reservoir on Google Maps). The loop is a very relaxing non-strenuous two miles. It was so easy and scenic, in fact, that it didn’t feel like two miles, so we circled it twice.

We came here on a Saturday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. and surprisingly, while there were people here, it didn’t feel crowded. Parking is across the street and is free! Before entering, you are able to see a children’s park, which we didn’t go to. There is a little picnic/area with tables to eat at the entrance as well as a boathouse and treat shack. The boathouse sold tickets to the paddle boats. From what I can recall, it seemed that the prices were reasonable and if we didn’t have our dog, we would have likely gone for a ride. They also had four restrooms at the entrance – what a treat – really! Two were gender-neutral single-stall bathrooms and the other two were male and female bathrooms with multiple stalls.

A mile into the zoo loop, you have the option to veer off the trail and actually follow a different one. We opted not to. This zoo loop was a cute little walk and we will probably return. The “trail” was paved with concrete, the plants and grass were well kept and there were plenty of benches and cute little Adirondack chairs to sit on along the way. One thing that we noticed that won us over were the signs to pick up after your dog AND poop bag dispensers with poop bags in them! Personally, if you’re a dog owner, you should always have dog bags on you. Its a crime not to, but this place takes the extra step of making sure there is no excuse not to pick up after your dog.

I really liked the fishing areas! They had little spaces along the trail for people to fish – basically, it was just tiled/paved sections of the reservoir’s perimeter – and there were actually people fishing there! I just think the little spaces are nice to sit along the water. Lastly, I liked that there were no bikes/skateboards allowed on the Zoo Loop. Frankly, the trail wasn’t wide enough for pedestrians and bikes.

A few exits along the trail lead to multiple things – McCloone’s Restaurant, other trails, and then to Turtleback zoo. I wonder if Turtleback zoo has free parking… because if it doesn’t then here’s your answer! We will be back here!


And that’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed reading this list of our favorite parks, trails and watering hole(s). Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Pet News

That time my dog ate rat poison

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I recommend any of the home remedies that I listed below. I am merely sharing an experience. If you and your pet are facing an emergency, please contact actual medical professionals.

ScenarioScreen Shot 2016-08-12 at 6.58.40 PM

Dog parents: I know you will agree with me when I say that there has never been a more stressful time than when your dog is sick… like seriously sick. Well, one day, my dog ate rat poison. Do I have your attention yet?

It was September and the heat from the summertime seemed to be unending. Somehow, in our teeny apartment, no matter what we do or whatever interventions we try, we almost always have mice! There are periods of time when we won’t see them and then there are periods of time when we feel like we can’t sleep because every little sound feels like a mouse. And nevermind that one of my dogs is a terrier mix and that (historically) terriers were originally bred to hunt and exterminate rodents.

Picture this: I’m on my lunch break at work and my partner calls my cell. He never calls, I thought to myself, as we are big texters. I pick up and he’s breathless and panicked when he tells me that the dogs have gotten into rat poison. I thought I was going to be sick.

Now I know what you’re wondering: What kind of animal-loving, pet-owning monster would have rat poison in their home?! Well, rewind five days earlier when our landlord sent over exterminators to look into our complaints of mice sightings droppings! Nervously, we reminded exterminator that we had dogs – not that he couldn’t hear their barking in the other room. We crated them so he can do a thorough search through the apartment. He insisted that the bait boxes would be out of sight and unreachable to the dogs. Again, I warned him that, even if the dogs can’t get to the bait boxes, if a mouse dies after having eaten the rat poison and dies where my dogs can get to it, that can also be harmful to my dogs. I reluctantly agreed to let him leave bait boxes and the drama begins here.

The Monday after the bait boxes were put down, I was walking out of my apartment when I caught a glimpse of a bait box, seemingly unreachable. I hesitated and then walked out of my apartment. Looking back now, that was my sign. I should have tossed all the bait boxes then and there.

I was frozen on the phone and as dramatic as it sounds, I felt helpless. I quickly snapped out of it and told my partner to give the dogs hydrogen peroxide in order to induce vomiting; here is a link to some HP dosing that I found really helpful. In these instances, my boyfriend freezes. I angrily made him snap out of it as I talk him through who to give the hydrogen peroxide to first. It was obvious that our bigger dog was the one that got to the bait box; it was ripped to shreds. We knew that he wasn’t going to share any of that enticing decadent rat poison; and upon inspection, he was the only one with green bits in his mouth and teeth.

Unsurprisingly, my partner administered the hydrogen peroxide and a few minutes later, my big dog is vomiting green.


My partner immediately takes Benny to the vet once he seems to have calmed down from vomiting. While he waits for the vet, he calls the exterminator company that left the bait boxes and confirmed that the rodenticide used was that with anticoagulant properties. Our veterinarian assured us that this is more common than we thought and that there was hope. Finally, a sliver of hope. She suggested giving Benny activated charcoal, in order to prevent further absorption of the toxins. Then she suggested blood work to check on his levels of Vitamin K; this part was optional and she said it would be a good idea to run the test after he has taken his course of Vitamin K tablets – it seemed like he had to take them forever!

The end of an ordeal

In the end, he lived and we were out $356, but because we had insurance for Benny, we got $64.55. That doesn’t sound like much after insurance because at the point before that, we didn’t yet meet our $250 deductible. Benny is happy and healthy and still getting into anything and everything her can!

Side notes: For those who wonder if insurance is worth it, I say yes. It is only after we’ve shelled out ~$1,200 and ~$3,300 in the past canine medical bills that we’ve learned our lesson. And to think, we could have gotten 90% of that ~$4,500 back.

I want to thank the staff at Animal Clinic & Hospital of Jersey City, especially Dr. Beard. They quoted us fairly and were reassuring. I cannot thank them enough.


And we’re back… Again!

Wow, I can’t believe the last time I blogged was in August 2016. Well, let me tell you:  since then, life has been a whirlwind! I realize I’m no longer an early 20-something trying to make it in the world post-undergrad. I’m now a late 20-something living the adult, eek!

Adulting has been pretty fun, actually! I have been reveling in full adulthood: watching all the TV I want, eating cereal for breakfast/lunch/dinner, the works! But seriously, I have really picked up a love for cooking and container gardening (because you know, apartment life).

Stay tuned as I gather some recipes that I have found to be tried and true, more about my dogs, and something I’ve never mentioned before – my growing collection of houseplants! While you sit tight, here are a few photos to round up the last year and a half!

About, Pet News

Let’s Catch Up!

Wow, so apparently, I haven’t updated this since April 2015! Say whaaaat. Many, many, many things have happened since then, actually! (hint: no human babies, yet!)

Can you believe that since I last blogged, I’m on my third principal at work? Yes, I know. I’ve been doing nothing but transitioning and transitioning. Its always tricky to be someone’s assistant – you have to get to know them, figure them out, navigate the relationship by deciphering language, cues, etc. I’ve grown a lot professionally and socially at work. I gained a handful of new friends at work since, which is nice. Otherwise, my work life is boring.

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A rainbow flag in the village.

I’m slowly but surely becoming an honorary New Yorker! I’ve been exploring the village
more since last April. I’ve found lots of (mostly food) places that have become my usual spots for when lunch isn’t being served at work – Saigon Shack, Sweetgreen, Mamouns, Dos Torros – the works! I’m also now a regular at my favorite coffee shop, Porto Rico! Nothing beats $0.75 iced coffee (if you bring your own cup)! I’m even finally figuring out which train lines go where! Amazing, right? It still seems sometimes, though, that I’m a foreigner. I’m getting there. This past summer, I even made it to Governor’s Island – a NYC must!

We moved! *does happy dance and cries tears of joy* We officially moved out of the (technically) mother-in-law’s! We moved into a cute little (and I mean little) apartment! We were soooo nervous about moving and being totally independent from my partner’s mom. Really! Turns out, it was the best decision we’ve made! Freedom!

We have a new addition! His name is Benny and he’s an 8 month old, 30-something-lb puppy! We aren’t really sure what kind of dog he is, but we heard that his mom is a lab/shih tzu mix. Having him has been a pleasure, but his first few nights were a nightmare for all of us! He and Pugsley took quite a while to warm up to each other – a long while! They’re getting along better now, thank goodness. See photos of them below!

Until next time!

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Pet News, Reviews

Spring Buys!

Happy spring! (kind of)

It seems mother nature has been stubborn and has no interest in bringing us NY and New Jerseyans any warm weather anytime soon. However, I did just come back from a week-long spring break. 😉

Its time to do a quick recap on none other than the don, Pugsley. I’ve purchased some products for fun, and also have been trying alternative therapies for his anxiety.

Chew toys – the PetSafe Busy Buddy Ultra Woofer Dog Toy in large. Needless to say, Pugsley isn’t the aggressive chewer I thought he was. This toy was far too large, heavy and roll-y! It made a loud thudwhen he would drop it. When it would roll toward him he’s cower. Do I have a scaredy cat on my hands!?

Anxiety – I’ve tried a few things, actually! Since the Prozac that the vet prescribed clearly made him aggressive, I looked into aromatherapy. I picked up a chamomile essential oil sample from a local health food store here by my job. The sales associate put the sample in a small clear plastic container – one you’d put condiments in. Once I got home, the essential oil melted through the first layer of plastic!

I was super hesitant to apply it behind Pugsley’s ears and belly.. but I did, and while the scent was overwhelming for me, it seemed to work for my pup. He seemed calmer, yet he also looked like he had a headache. Or maybe it was just me who had the headache from the smell. After that one time, I decided to try a less intense aromatherapy, so I tried Organic Lavender Hydrosol. Pugsley reacted better to this. However, we use the hydrosol in conjunction with Dog Supplies Calming For Small Dogs and his Thundershirt. A lot, I know, right? Whatever works. Car rides are still a B, though.

11068867_10205770798252016_1992308422_nGrooming – we recently discovered a new grooming spot in the town over from ours. The drive there is less stressful as we on’t need to take the highway, but Pugsley is still a whiny in the car. (To combat that in the future, I got a Dog Adjustable Car Automotive Seat Safety Belt Vehicle Seatbelt. We have yet to try it.) This new spot, Dusty’s Dog House has the works – daycare, boarding, grooming and training. My favorite part is the camera access to play spaces! We took him to get groomed and he looked like a completely different dog! It took some getting used to when we saw our big fluff all naked and shaved down. We usually shave him down once a year for hygiene reasons, anyway. Another thing I really liked about Dusty’s was that its on a strip where there are barely any people. He was able to bark like a maniac to his heart’s content. Funny thing is, when he did, the owner took a peek out his window! Ha!


my abortion story and how planned parenthood saved my life.

I want to preface this by saying that this is the first time I’ve ever spoken or written about this publicly. I find this a really brave thing to do, so if you, as a reader find it necessary to give criticism and feedback, please do so through a private message. I will be glad to answer questions. The recent research I’ve done on others telling their stories has empowered me to tell mine after five long secretive years. The faces of the woman who’ve told their stories in a recent article by the guardian showed me that there are many, many faces in this social issue, including mine.

Reeling from a break up with a guy I’ve been with for almost three years, I was reckless and carefree. Most of the time, I was just sad; but I was also 20—young, confused, and with so much time on my hands.

It was the summer of 2010 and I was working part time at a local daycare. I’d sleep all day, work in the afternoons, and party all night. That summer, I got acquainted with a boy who lived a few houses down the block from mine. His name was Chris and while he wasn’t much of a looker, he was a smooth talker. We hung out with other kids on the block—drinking and smoking until daybreak. I believed him when he said he was in the trenches of a breakup, too. So I partied with him and eventually, we hooked up. Again and again. That summer was a big blur of short shorts, cheap bottles of mad dog, and weed.

While I played the “too-cool-for-school” act, in reality, I was an A/B student. And I attended class at a nearby college almost religiously. In fact, I was on a full scholarship the previous two years until my GPA dropped by .03 points. I was a smart girl now that I look back at it.

I can recall that my home life was in a strange kind of arrangement. I wasn’t old enough to drink, but I wasn’t too young anymore to wrangle up and lock into my room anymore. My parents seemed to come to terms with my very social, social life. It didn’t mean that they weren’t weary of my new friends on the block. Sometimes I’d catch my dad trying to do a drive by. One time, he even tried to warn me about Chris, but I didn’t care to listen. He said something that sounded like, “you think you’re the only one?” Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

After hooking up all summer, this fantasy ended brusquely. Summer was over. I went home early from work one day—for a reason I cant remember—and there he was, sitting on his porch with the girl he’s supposedly broken up with. As I walked toward them (I had to pass his house to get to mine), I can feel my face turning red from shame. He wrapped his arms around her, pretending he didn’t even know me. I walked home and felt angry with myself.

Flash forward a week or so to a Saturday morning. I wake up, and without thinking, pull a pregnancy test out of my stash of “just-in-case” pregnancy tests. I walk over to the bathroom, using my morning pee, and boom. There it is. Two lines. Those two lines that would toss my life into a wildly emotional and painful but still very short storm. After I’ve used both “emergency” pregnancy tests, I sent a sixteen-year-old kid, Jorge, from across the street to a nearby pharmacy to buy some more tests. I’m not sure what I was thinking. This kid, who wanted to fit in with the “big kids,” has all of a sudden become my lifeline and my first source of comfort.

Surprisingly, for such an immature kid, Jorge waited outside my house, on my porch, for me to come outside. I told him the results—they didn’t change from the first two times. Jorge, naively told me that it would be okay, and that I would figure it all out. At that point in time, I wasn’t sad or upset. I just remember thinking, “I’m fucked.” Another part of me was also very sure that I was to get an abortion.

My life flashed before my eyes, actually. I had so many thoughts – “what would my parents say?” “they’re going to kill me,” “I wonder if/that I used my mom’s insurance card, she would find out.” I also knew that my family would disapprove as basically, nobody ever uttered the word, “sex,” in our family. I never got “the talk” beyond “don’t do anything stupid.” I knew I couldn’t go to my parents – not even my own mom, who was [is] a nurse. Basically everything I knew about the logistics of sex and contraception, I learned from the internet, which is still cringe-worthy.

That Monday, I went to the neighborhood Planned Parenthood that I went to as a high schooler to get free birth control and annual examinations. Ironic that I was there considering that I as no longer taking birth control. I paid $10 to take another pregnancy test, which was basically the same ones I took at home, but somehow, it felt more official. They gave me a piece of paper stating that I was pregnant. Ha, what was I going to do with this piece of paper? I laugh now at the possibilities.

Later that day, I texted Chris to tell him that I was pregnant. Of course, and to no surprise, he was not happy. Even unhappier was his older brother, who vehemently denied that this unborn child I was carrying was his brother’s. Right, because he was there watching us have unprotected sex. Not.

I didn’t care. I had a few bucks. Since I was young and mainly stupid, I was afraid to use my insurance, since I was still insured under my mom. I imagined that the insurance company would call her or bill her and she would be dumbfounded and I’d have to confess. Again, while I had a lively social life, talking about sex with my parents was still taboo. It still is sometimes. I called the abortion clinic to inquire about the costs. Three hundred fifty dollars. Three hundred. And fifty dollars. It seemed like such a large amount at the time. It still does.

I confided in my best friend that I was pregnant and all the drama that came with it. He, too, was confused by Chris’ brother’s reaction when just a few weeks ago, we were all having a fine time together. I told him that when I asked Chris to at least pay for half of the cost, his brother spoke up for him and said that he will not be incurring those costs. Angry, my best friend said he would cover Chris’ half of the costs, and that when he came to his senses, he would realize that he’d owe my best friend, not me. In reality, I didn’t care for the cost. Yes, it was pricey for me, but I also didn’t care. I wanted Chris out of my life and it felt like this was the only thing that was holding me to him—an unborn child.

I scheduled an abortion for one of the days in the following week. This is where the days get hazy and time seems to be a blur. With my half and my best friend’s half in hand, my best friend walks into the clinic with me. I think two things—this is a big wad of cash, and I hope it doesn’t hurt. I also felt shame. I was afraid to look at other people and other women in the eyes. We were all there for the same reasons, but everyone was silent, as if it weren’t obvious.

Once my name is called, I’m escorted to a room where I’m asked to undress. Quickly, I’m whisked into a room with four other girls undressed and only covered by disposable examination robes, all holding the robe together to avoid being exposed. Again, an awkward silence and nobody looking at each other. I’m then called into another room to speak to a counselor. She asks me basic questions, “how old are you?” “do you now how far along you are?” “do you have a history of x, y or z?”

Her assistant, I gather, was also her daughter. She was very young, probably my age at the time. She was taking notes and helping with some things in the room.

A few seconds later, I feel a sharp cold wetness on my stomach. The nurse was giving me an ultrasound. It was ultrasound goo. My first reaction was to look away. And then I thought, why not. I didn’t feel emotional at all. I kind of felt blank, and I was okay with that. My feelings mainly revolved around the fact that I thought I was pro-life. I was kind of confused with myself and my feelings on this social issue that I seemed to be sure about. The nurse surprisingly proclaimed, “wow, you must know your body. You’re only five weeks along.” As I was leaving the room to go into the room where the abortion is performed, I hear the nurse scold a girl (in the most motherly way possible), ‘this is your fifth abortion, honey. You’ve got to have a plan. Start taking birth control or something.” While Planned Parenthood is known for being non-judgemental, I still hold on to this, thinking, “I can’t imagine going through this again, and I haven’t even had the abortion yet.”

I think its important to note that during this whole thing leading up to the actual act of abortion, I felt a tinge of guilt from having a Catholic background. Not once, though, did I think “in eight months, I will have given birth,” or even wonder what the baby I was carrying would look like. I also didn’t want to die, or feel pain.

This is where the most unimaginable pain began. I was laid onto a medical table with stirrups. The medical team tied my arms and legs to the table with leather belts. The kind that they use during executions. They shot me up with anesthesia and without waiting for it to kick in, the doctor (who I’ve only seen at this point) performed the dilation and evacuation, better known as the d&c. I moaned and writhed in pain but couldn’t leave. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I had tunnel vision and the one thing I chose to stare at was my arm with the anesthesia needle still in it. Its like in my head, I was coaching it to kick in. I wanted to ask them to take it easy, but from the pressure I felt, I knew that wasn’t in the plans. It was only when the procedure was over that I felt the anesthesia kick in.

Once it was over, they made me sit in an armchair for 10 minutes. In that armchair, I was angry but also too weak to do anything about it. I waited for them to let me go, and they asked if I had someone to accompany me home. I said yes.

The car ride in my best friend’s car was quiet. He tried to comfort me. I sat in the back seat, high as a horse with my face leaning on the cold hard glass. The buildings were blurry and I just wanted to sleep. Somehow, I ended up at home with all my medications and painkillers that I needed to take. I don’t even remember how I got them. I do, though, remember that the sleep I got from that anesthesia was the best sleep I’ve had. Ever. And that was it. It was over.

After the abortion, Chris tried to contact me to tell me that he “got locked up” because he was selling weed to come up with his half. I deferred him to my best friend, with whom he had a debt to settle. Almost six years later and I haven’t heard from him since, though I know he still lives in the same house, still does the same shit, sitting on his porch, smoking weed, and at the same place he was when I left the block.

Looking back this huge fiasco, I can’t think of a better story to tell. Yes, it sucked. I wish it didn’t have to happen, but it did and I learned about myself during the process. I learned that I am pro-choice. I learned that while I am pro-choice, I will probably take all the precautions I can to have to avoid going through another abortion again. It was physically painful and uncomfortable. And while it felt costly (I mean, $300 is a lot to a 20-year-old), I look at the grand scheme of things and think about how much that $300 – a drop in the bucket – changed and molded my life. I know at 20, I was in no way ready to parent. I didn’t want to. Simply put.

I’ll never force my beliefs on anyone, but I won’t be afraid to tell it out loud. I believe in safe medical abortion, and I believe that a woman has every right to her own body. I believe that women have the right to adequate healthcare and yes, that includes having the choice to have an abortion. If I weren’t able to make the decisions that I did make, my life would have staggered. Stunted. I’d probably be living below the poverty line. The drama that I was able to leave behind would probably continue. I’ll never forget to talk about the physical pain that I experienced with my abortion, but its legitimately fair to also talk about my amazing life after it.

I’m six years wiser now. Because I had that abortion, I was able to finish college without the struggles and hardship that came with having a child. I watched (some of) my friends with kids struggle to find childcare and to even continue their educational careers, which to me, was and is hugely important. With my education, I nabbed what seems to be my dream job in the city.

On a final note, I want to add that I don’t feel psychological pain. I don’t think everyone does, but I can’t take away from that fact that some people do. And that’s valid. Here and there I think back to it and think, “wow, to think that I’d have a kid right now….thank goodness I don’t!” I often talk about this with my current and long-term partner and I don’t know if I ever sound thankful enough, or lucky enough that I was able to make this life-changing decision. When the time comes that I decide I want and can afford to have children, I’ll make that decision. For now, I’ll support other women. Lift them up. Never judge them or their decisions. I’ll always stand up for other women’s rights because that means standing up for my rights.